OK, it’s official: the so-called B-League of Swedish Metal is rising up and taking names! Last year NECROPHOBIC (perhaps one of the most tragically underrated bands out there) released the splendid “Hrimthursum”, and this year we’ve already had two great releases from NAGLFAR and now this one from LORD BELIAL. Face it people, Sweden has more to offer than the piss poor DARK FUNERAL and MARDUK, even though the latter’s brand new album fucking kills.
Before I start this review I must admit that I’ve never given LORD BELIAL the credit they deserve. I remember hating their “Unholy Crusade” album from a few years back so much that I literally threw it against the wall in disgust. The CD survived (albeit very scratched), the jewel case did not. I also remember being way more impressed by Micke and Niclas’s side-project (the sporadically active VASSAGO), so I never bothered to check out their main band for a few years. That all changed with “The Seal Of Belial”, the slightly weaker but still good “Nocturnal Beast”, and now their 7th full-length effort “Revelation – The 7’th Seal”. With this album they have pulled out all the stops and delivered a career defining album. It’s still the same old LORD BELIAL – heavily DISSECTION-influenced mid-paced melodic Black Metal with the occasional Death Metal flourish – but on here everything just flows better.
Now here’s the curious thing: this album is VERY accessible. No, not accessible in the sense that it is poppy or anything like that (Satan wouldn’t allow that…), but it’s just super pleasant to listen to! Usually I’m happy when a BM album is so grim that it makes my balls shrivel up and fall off (this may actually also happen if you have sex with an, ehm, unclean Bulgarian prostitute…), but I was quite content to sit back and tap my toes to this album! Weird. Anyway, “Revelation” is one monster of a Black Metal album that really does everything right, whether it’s “Ancient Splendor” (this one would not sound out of place on “Storm Of The Light’s Bane” at all), the epic “Gateway To Obliveon”, the catchy-yet-somber “Death As Solution” (featuring an effective semi-clean sung/screamed chorus), or the brooding “Aghast” - it’s all stupendous stuff. Perhaps key to this album’s potency is the amazing guitar work. The riffs are all imbued with a dark and emotional tone while the leads are among the best you’ll ever hear in extreme Metal, hands down. Adrian Smith would be proud of these solos, especially the masterful one in the aforementioned “Aghast”. It adds a layer of class to these songs and elevates the album to classic status. The solid production job doesn’t hurt either.
LORD BELIAL have made a believer out of me with this wonderful album. No it’s not the grimmest and heaviest album out there but it is chock full of grand melodies, rich atmospheres and, most importantly, integrity.
After 15 years in the trenches these guys have finally delivered the crown jewel of their discography. I couldn’t be happier!!
(Online July 5, 2007)